I recently reread Marvel’s 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove. I read the book years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about the Marvel universe, but I’ve read a lot of Marvel books since then including the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Avengers.
If your unfamiliar with the premise of 1602 it is a graphic novel that takes place in England during the era of Elizabeth I. Marvel characters; Nick Fury, Matt Murdock, Magneto, Charles Xavier, Peter Parker, and others are interwoven into this universe. Nick Fury plays the right hand to Queen Elizabeth, Matt Murdock plays a spy working for Fury, Magneto is a religious leader who is secretly supporting people who have special abilities (Mutants), and Charles Xavier has his School for the Gifted (X-Men).
The plot is about a young woman named Virginia Dare who is traveling from the colony of Roanoke to ask the queen for help. She is escorted by a native of the new world who may resemble a superhero named Captain America. The focus of the story centers around the assassination of Elizabeth orchestrated by Doctor Doom, which causes Sir Nicholas Fury to seek vengeance, and to have him be the main target for King James of England and Scotland, who in turn sends Eric Banner and Peter Parker to hunt him down.
Doom is also keeping the legendary Fantastic Four captive in his castle. Legends of the Fantastic Four have been whittled down to just stories in this world, and believed dead. Doom seeks advice from Reed Richards on a daily basis and Reed being Reed uses his captivity as a way to better understand scientific and fantastical anomalies. This makes him better equipped later on to help the heroes led by Nick Fury and Charles Xavier to better understand how the world is collapsing in on itself.
Magneto who is the Grand Inquisitor in Spain uses his religious influence to better formulate and execute his plans to create a world made purely of his race of mutants which include Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Eventually he is found out and almost burned at the stake.
The best parts of the book is how well the heroes are interwoven into the story. Matt Murdock is awesome in this book as an Elizabethan Era Daredevil and Nick Fury is done incredibly well. There is a great moment where he confesses to Peter Parker; “…The Queen laughed at me, because I had no interest in hunting or hawking, or masques. What I did was what I am. And now…nothing matters. Everything I did…there’s blood on my hands, boy. Reed says that God made a thousand, thousand worlds, each like this one, only different. I hope there’s one of them in which I chose to walk another path. But I fear that in any universe my path will be marked with blood. Reed seeks to save the world. I no longer care if it lives or dies.”
The art in the book is incredible and of course since it’s Neil Gaiman the story is fantastic. I recommend this book for Marvel fans especially. When I read it the first time, I thought it was a good story, but it didn’t impact me as much as the second time I read it, after reading so much more Marvel.
Hope you check it out and thanks for reading!